Conventions of Composition Rule 202
Rule: When you write about a novel or play, the only references to its being a novel or play should come in your citations. In the body of your writing, write about the story rather than about the book (unless the prompt asks you to explain the importance of the form in making meaning).
Wrong: In the novel, Nick tries to reserve judgment.
Better: Nick tries to take the advice of his father to reserve judgment.
Wrong: Early in the book, Buttercup becomes the most beautiful woman in the world.
Better: After she learns of Westley's death, Buttercup becomes the most beautiful woman in the world.
Wrong: In Act III, Orlando carves Rosalind's name on every tree he can find.
Better: To express his new love for her, Orlando carves his name on every tree he can find. (III.ii.5-10)
Practice rewriting the following sentences to provide context references rather than book/page references:
- Marie-Laure and Werner don't meet each other until late in the novel.
- In the first four chapters, we learn more about Telemachus than about Odysseus.
- Janie tells her story to her friend Phoeby in the first and last parts of the book.
Resources for further explanation of how to refer to texts in essays:
The Writing Center at Harvard University's Beginning the Academic Essay
Wiki How's Putting a Quote into an Essay